PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – President Barack Obama visited Pittsburgh for the White House Frontiers Conference on Thursday.

It’s a showcase for future innovation, being co-hosted by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

Obama landed at Pittsburgh International Airport around 1:30 p.m. and headed to Pitt’s campus for a tour.

The conference is already reaping benefits for Pittsburgh.  The U.S. Transportation secretary brought an $11 million grant for the city to provide a safer, more efficient transportation system.  How will it work?

“Vehicles that actually can communicate with each other.  Communicate with traffic signals.  That can see a traffic accident before it occurs so it can avoid it,” said Anthony Fox, U.S. Transportation Secretary.

Mayor Bill Peduto is interested in what the conference will do for Pittsburgh’s image.

“Will help to change that image once and for all from a rusty old city to a global innovation center,” he said.

Obama started with a tour of some nerd-worthy projects: a Boeing space flight simulator, a self-flying drone used for infrastructure inspection and the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft that carried cargo to the International Space Station.

He says it’s “cool stuff.”

“Smooth Operator” played just before President Obama took the stage around 3:20 p.m.

Obama said he gets riled up when he hears people ignore facts and science, such as politicians who question whether global warming is occurring. He said only with science can the world tackle its toughest challenges in the 21st century.

He spoke highly of Pittsburgh’s ability to move from a city struggling with the steel and coal industries to a master of technology and science.

President Obama said to continue to progress in these fields, we must focus on helping children.

“We can’t look to the future unless we lift up the generations that will occupy the future,” he said.

Additionally, he spoke on the importance of welcoming people to the table when it comes to innovation.

“We are the nation that just had six scientists win Nobel Prizes and every one of them was an immigrant,” he said.

Finally, the President ended his message on a hopeful note: “Here in America, with the right investments, with the unbelievable brilliance and ingenuity of young people…there is nothing we cannot do. Let’s keep it going, let’s get to work.”

The conference is focusing on five “frontiers” of innovation:

  • Personal frontiers in health care and medical technology;
  • Local frontiers, involving the use of “smart” technologies in communities;
  • National frontiers, focusing on artificial intelligence, robotics and other developments that benefit all Americans;
  • Global frontiers, which include technologies for clean energy and to track climate information;
  • Interplanetary frontiers, including future space exploration and plans to explore Mars.

Dozens of students lined up to view President Obama’s motorcade as he arrived and left.

“He’s a very inspiring man, it’s very cool to see him come to the university,” one student said.

Due to the president’s visit, several road closures were in effect:

  • Tennyson Avenue closed at 4 p.m. Wednesday and will reopen around 10 p.m. tonight.
  • Fifth Avenue (between Bellefield and Bigelow) will be closed at 1 p.m. and will reopen at approximately 3 p.m.
  • Lytton will be closed at 11:30 a.m. and will reopen around 10 p.m. tonight.

He departed from the airport on Air Force One just after 6 p.m.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter